Thursday, May 12, 2016


What is WorkHuman
wall of donuts
Second year running, WorkHuman is an HR conference presented by Globoforce (an employee recognition software company). Breaking out of the norm, WorkHuman gathers "human capital" professionals in one place and says "treat people like people." A common sense concept that for some reason is brilliant. In sunny Orlando, the venue was fantastic and the amenities plenty. I'm often wary of attending conferences that are sales-pitchy but WorkHuman did a good job of keeping the content inspiring and applicable. Imo, they allowed the participant to be as interested or uninterested in their product as one chose to be. The content had a Ted-Talk-esque feel with big names in the world of organizational psychology and research.  With coloring stations, walls of food, and a hipster-modern feel it was definitely worth the expense. Overall, it felt like Broadway's Hamilton - surprisingly entertaining, innovative, and everyone wishes they had tickets.

Paradigm Shift
coloring tables
If WorkHuman did anything it left me with hope for HR. With the rise of technology the HR of 20 years ago is dying dead. Younger thoughtful organizational leaders are focusing less on learning policy, procedure, and profit and more on culture. Being in an sea of problem solvers breeds collaboration and inspiration. Attendees are eager to challenge themselves and others and it shows. This next era of HR is exactly where I want to be. However, let's trash the moniker HR from the vernacular and replace it with something cool like "Human Potential Director" or "Positive Work Environment Enforcer."

humans treating humans as humans
Social Responsibility
remove bureaucracy
One thing became very clear to me as I sat in talk after talk on "human potential." Give me all the ROI and growth statistics you want; employee engagement isn't a strategy - it's a social responsibility. Old school methods currently in place are nothing more than our outdated industrial-age procedures that still live within our system. As the world becomes more interconnected, as diversity becomes a requirement, as flexible work life is the norm, as we crave a symbiosis between our professional and personal life... it becomes more apparent to me that creating a professional environment that treats humans as humans isn't something we do because it'll increase revenue or create efficiency - we do it cause it's morally right.

Full Potential
I've been attempting to reconcile going to a powerful, thought provoking conference and how I can make an impact on the world around me. Imagine being told by Michael J Fox that you can utilize your full talent and do what makes you happy  - cause that's quite literally what happened. During the conference I found myself stretched between wanting to type up notes capturing every detail, to tweeting amazing quotes and factoids, to being present and mindful so I could fully experience the moment.

As a high-energy, critical thinking professional  human I left this conference feeling "less than." Why aren't I doing these things? Why haven't I thought this way? Why aren't I challenging the norm? It leaves me with a sense of guilt and shame that perhaps I'm not utilizing my talents in the best way to help serve the humans I work with and for. Am I using my full potential? And maybe that's exactly where I need to be.

See you next year in Phoenix, WorkHumans.

Monday, April 25, 2016

File 13 Phrases

Here's a few choice inappropriate comments that seem benign in nature but really have deeper vitriol. I vote that these are removed from office lexicon in 2016, who's with me?

"Working hard or hardly working?"
This is just poor form. It implies jokingly that this person is a slacker. While it is in jest, be careful with making jokes at another's expense. In the professional atmosphere, I try to permeate an atmosphere of lifting co-workers up not down.

"You look particularly nice today!"
Another phrase that varies but the hidden passive statement is "You don't normally look nice." While we're eager to compliment others because, well, we know compliments make others feel good, unfortunately, this one points out the opposite.

"You look tired/sick..."
Mayday. Mayday. Abandon ship! You know how you aren't supposed to ask a woman is she's pregnant. This ranks right up there. Unless this person says "I'm feeling ill" then don't point it out. Instead ask something like "How are you feeling today?"

"What do you work banker's hours?"
or "Hey part-timer!"
"I never see you"
or "You're always gone" 

Can we just put these phrases into the holy grail storage container to be stored away forever? a) Another person's schedule does not diminish your own. b) If a co worker works less or more hours than you it doesn't mean you are better or worse than them. Technology today allows access to employees 24/7. Just because your hours are different than another's hours, doesn't mean they haven't done their job.

"Sure, but what are you going to do for me?"
True story. Just no.

"Cowboy up..."
a) The sexist nature of this comment alone makes it inappropriate enough and b) it also demeans the other person by accusing that they need to "be stronger." This phrase is hardly ever used in a motivational or uplifting manner, but usually as a response to a perceived whining or complaining. It lacks compassion. Again, stick with phrases that praise others, not deject.

"Women are neater/more organized/cleaner than men..."
Ditto on point A above but even further we're not just demeaning one person but an entire group of individuals. It implies that men are messy and unorganized which isn't true, but even further it opens up a stereotypical window to the "that's a woman's job." Dishes in the office break room? Files need to be alphabetized?  Guess a woman can only do those jobs. But executive level, critical thinking and business networking or For Men Only.

Heard any "not cool" phrases?  What are your File 13s? Tell us yours! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

7 Jobs That Educate You Better Than College Did

"What do you want to major in?"
A dejecting, cringe-worthy question teenagers get asked by adults and the one that matters the least in my opinion.  As a mother of a teen who is contemplating her college education, my daughter and I get into plenty of arguments discussions about what she's interested in, what she's good at, and workplace culture. I try best to steer her towards questions like "What do you want to be doing all day?" "What kind of atmosphere do you like?" and "How much money do you want to make?"

Having filtered through my fair share of resumes, I know that college degrees while important is only a "check box" on an application. Reality is, while having higher education is a plus, it's only as good as what is proven on the job. That said, how does a 16 year old decide upon entering college what degree to pursue? It boggles the mind to think that two short years ago we didn't yet trust this kid to drink, vote, or sign a contract but now we expect them to decide on what they're going to do for the rest of their life.  In a 2014 study, 29% of college graduates say they should have chosen a different major to better prepare them for their ideal job. Moreover, college graduates said that "choosing a different major" and "gaining more work experience" were their biggest regrets.

I contend that true direction in your career isn't learned and shouldn't be expected in college but rather after - in the work force.  Here's 7 jobs that I think will educate young employees better and with less debt than college ever will.

1. Small Business
Locally owned. A start up. Or a mom and pop.  Just something that has less than 100 employees will do. Small businesses are great for learning everything that goes in to a business. Working for in something small will teach you the value of profit and a work ethic that demands "jacks of all trades." From a cozy "we just like what we have" to a big-dreams, it will really educate you on the amount of work more than half of our sales in the US go towards.

2. A Fortune 500
Alternatively, working for a very large company can be equally educational and rewarding. Businesses like this educate you on the industry, give you an idea of the number of opportunities in career development, and how to navigate a corporate structure. Even better finding a publicly owned large business helps to teach you regulations, standards, and legal rules for doing business.  Big business can help jump start a great career.

3. State/Federal
State and federal can have just as many regulations and policies as "big business" but it a very different way. Working for a state of federal entity can teach you the value of our tax dollars.  How they are used and sometimes wasted. When working for the government you start to learn the intricacies behind why it works the way it does. Also, government benefits (insurance, holidays, retirement) are usually almost always better in the state/federal sector.

4. Finance/Accounting
Switching gears. a big learning experience is trying your hand in crunching numbers. If you ever want to really understand business, understanding how a business makes and spends money is a life changer. Execs love employees with some "bean counting" knowledge. Even if you eventually end up in sales, management, or something non-accounting related, this education will help you to make future business decisions based on one question:  "Is this profitable to my company?"

5. Customer Service/Retail
A truly humbling experience, working in customer service will build interactions skills with your customers, clients, vendors, and co-workers.  Those who have this background understand that as a company representative (in whichever role you are), every person you interact with sees you as a voice of the company. You're part of that brand. Knowing how to converse about your product/service, how to troubleshoot any issues, and basic "making a sale" is key to developing your career.

6. Management
Those who go into management quickly learn whether they want to be managers or not. In fact, most of the time the most logical (and sometimes only) next step is management. If you're a high-potential employee who is succeeding, you'll likely get asked to manage others. The crux of this is that it takes skill to effectively manage others and it's really only learned by doing. You will learn empathy, how to provide support to your team, conflict resolution, change management, and much much more.

7. Your Own Business
I'll admit that this one is a "I've been told" one for me I'm convinced I'd be my worst boss. Nothing can be harder but potentially more rewarding than owning your own business and seeing it succeed.  That said, it's a tough climb and many owners don't see profits for the first years of their business. The benefits are the ability to envision something you can offer the market that no one else can and making that happen. You will learn the ability to self-manage your time, your own strengths, and your own weaknesses to do whatever it takes - because after all it's your money. It requires networking to get your business going and develops leadership to manage others.

Agree?  Disagree? Think I left any out?  
Comment below and let's discuss!